HHS girls advance to 3A championship bracket play

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  The Hillsboro High School volleyball team defeated all three opponents in pool play Friday at the Class 3A state tournament in Salina to advance to Saturday?s semifinals.

The Trojans, seeded fourth in the tournament with a 34-6 record, started the day with a 25-12, 25-12 win over fifth-seeded Douglass. Hillsboro started slowly, falling behind, 1-7. When Tena Loewen stepped in to serve the score stood at 3-8, but a 15-point run — including three aces — vaulted HHS into the lead at 18-8. Hillsboro sailed home from there. Game 2 was never in doubt, as the Trojans jumped out to a 3-0 start and were never threatened en route to the 13-point final spread.

The second match, against eighth-seeded Wellsville, started out even more smoothly. Hillsboro dominated Game 1 with a lopsided 25-9 tally. Wellsville, who had upset top-seeded Hoisington in the very first match of the tournament, hung with Hillsboro for most of Game 2. Still close at 21-19, Hillsboro managed a side out for a 22-19 edge, and, with Loewen stepping in to serve, the Trojans closed out the Eagles, 25-19.

The win clinched a ticket to the semifinals. But the battle wasn?t over. The match with top-seeded Hoisington easily proved to be the Trojans? biggest challenge of the day, Hillsboro had to battle from behind to beat the Cardinals, 21-25, 25-21, 28-26.

After battling from behind into an early 4-3 lead, Hillsboro trailed the rest of Game 1, although the deficit was never more than four points.

Hoisington appeared to be heading for a two-game sweep when it scored the first two points and led by as much as six points at 12-6. Hillsboro finally gained its first lead at 14-13 behind a three-point serving run by Danae Bina. The Trojans led narrowly the rest of the way, and finally nailed down the 25-21 win on a pair of kills by Krista Reimer at the end.

The rubber game was like the others — close. Hillsboro took the biggest lead of the game at 10-7. but Hoisington rallied to tie it at 10-10. Hillsboro pulled ahead 13-10, only to see the Cardinals rally again and take the lead at 15-14. Again the Trojans edged ahead, but never by more than two points until the Cardinals rallied once more and pushed Hillsboro to the brink with a 25-24 lead, and then again at 25-26. But the Trojans tied the match at 26 on a kill by Loewen, took the lead on a mis-hit by Hoisington and then shut the door on a kill down the line by Addie Lackey for the 28-26 final.

For Hillsboro, it was the first escape from pool play since 2007, and only the second time in five trips to Salina under coach Sandy Arnold.

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